While protests during the opening day of SPACE 2015 highlighted difficulties in the dairy and pig sectors, Day 2 threw some light on problems faced by the French poultry sector.

Delegates attending talks on how to improve competiveness in the country’s poultry industry were told how the industry remains fragmented, with a large of number of smallscale producers, compared to other European countries.

But it is not only this fragmentation that has seen French production become less competitive than its rivals. As with the pig and dairy sectors, the French poultry sector has also failed to invest.

The volume of French poultry meat produced has been gently declining since the start of the century, while consumption of poultry meat has been rising. While the country remains self-sufficient in poultry meat, this self-sufficiency has seriously declined over the same period.

France is increasingly importing standard chicken meat, in part because the local costs of production and processing are higher than those in a number of its neighbors, making local production ever less attractive as a source of supply.

Protests keep Day 1 numbers low

Attendance numbers at the Rennes-based trade show were down by 30 percent in comparison to the 2014 trade show’s opening day.

This decrease was primarily due to the large-scale pre-announced demonstrations that took place at the event.

Marcel Denieul president of SPACE said: “Without doubt, a lot of visitors, aware of the planned demonstrations, delayed their visit to the second day of the show.”  

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He had previously commented that the show should not be “held hostage” by the protesters.

Despite the poor turnout, the show was nevertheless record-breaking, covering a larger area than ever before with more exhibitors and foreign delegations. SPACE reported that 1,441 exhibitors are taking part, coming from 39 countries.

But the demonstrations took their toll, with some exhibitors sleeping in their cars at the exhibition ground the night before the opening. Road blocks near the exhibition grounds meant that, for some, the normally short car journey from Rennes city center to the show became a two-hour slog.

However, the 500 gendarmes that were brought in to keep the peace did their job and, despite planning to attend, the French Agriculture Minister failed to appear, so removing a focus for the demonstrators.

Crowds return

Day 2 of the show was certainly very different. Anecdotal it may be, but on Day 1, there were no queues for restaurants or takeaway stands, and there seemed to be as many sandwiches available at the end of the day as there were at the start.

Day 2, however, saw food queues so long that they interrupted the movement of people around the show ground, so it would seem that at least some of those who stayed away on opening day made the effort on Day 2.

And torrential rain certainly forced the crowds into the exhibition halls where the various stands seemed to be hosting intense conversations.